Is just to love, and be loved in return.

When I met Brady, I was a true damsel in distress.  I was 18, coming out of a very complicated and adult-like relationship.  I was actually coming out of a very love-less and low-self-esteemed six or so years.  I was making reckless choices in my life – namely, in who I was letting hold my heart.  I really, really, really struggled with this in my teen years.  I didn’t love myself, and I desperately wanted to be loved.  So I went looking for it in all the wrong places, like any naive teen girl would do.

My life was far from God’s plan, and God was completely off my radar – but He knew I was struggling, and threw me a lifeline.  A serious, life saving break.  It came in the form of a 22 year old, 6 foot 1 inch, handsome, brown eyed man.  I was reluctant to start dating Brady because he was everything I had never dated – kind and respectful and honest and sweet.  So naturally, I dug my feet in the ground and swore I wasn’t good enough for him.  But that kind and respectful and honest and sweet man is also quite persistent, and when he gets something in his craw, there’s no getting it out.  I just happened to be the lucky girl to get stuck in his craw.

For weeks, Brady and I dated.  I flourished in the sweet bliss a new crush will give you, waiting for it to inevitably unravel and for him to do something awful and heartbreaking and show me his “true colors”.  But week after week, month after month, he called when he said he would call, he prioritized me in his time, he treated me sweetly and respectfully every single time we were together, and even when we were apart.  It was something I had never, ever, ever seen before.  While I kept waiting for that shoe to drop, it never did.  Brady never treated me badly, he never said a mean word to me.

The year Brady and I started dating, I moved a record number of times, and had my car in the shop more often than not.  One time in particular, I was driving in a rain storm on the freeway and a truck carrying bolders was a ways in front of me.  The road was so wet, I could barely see 2 feet in front of me.  Suddenly I heard a loud bang and all I could see out of my windshield was the sky, and then I came slamming back down on the road, swerving out of my lane and to the shoulder of the freeway.  The truck had dropped a huge bolder that I hit and completely blew out two of my tires and wheels on the right side.  This was just one more bout of horrible luck I had had during the last few months.  I felt reluctant to call Brady, I worried he would definitely see me for the hot mess I was and go running for the hills.  I was supposed to meet him though, so I had to call.  In only minutes, Brady was right there on the side of the freeway to pick me up, called a tow truck and was waiting with me in his warm truck until they came.  He was so sweet and kept telling me how sorry he was about this and reassuring me that we would get it figured out.  I knew I felt differently for Brady that I had anyone else, but in this minute, I knew that I was head over heels, in too deep, breathlessly in love with him.

Falling in love with men wasn’t new to me, but being loved by them was, and Brady loved me.  He loved me in a way that I couldn’t understand at all, because I didn’t even love myself.  I had no idea of my worth, I had felt so completely worthless for so long.  The way that he looked at me though, made me want to love myself.  He saw something in me that I hoped I would be able to see, he believed in me in a way that I tried desperately to believe.  He never made me feel less than, and where I struggled and fell short, he was right by my side willing to help me make my next move. (literally.. he assisted me moving 8 times that year.)

After 10 months of romance and dates, 3 of the latter being long distance, Brady slipped a ring on my finger and offered to take me on for the rest of his life.  On this day, there was one thing I knew for sure – the day Brady walked into my life, everything changed for the better.  I effortlessly fell in love with him, and then I learned to love God, and somehow, hardest of all, I had managed to start loving myself.